Xroads Double Brings Intellectual Reawakening to the Hill

Joseph Abrams ‘23

Editor in Chief

Inherent to the human condition is a fundamental desire to categorize and name the various people, places, and things that our consciousness desperately tries to make sense of. It is a biological fact that we are born into this world with little knowledge. It isn’t until toddlerhood that we can distinguish similarities and differences through visual patterns, let alone assign names to those associations. By the time we’re adults, however, we find ourselves, and our world, perpetually defined and informed by the categories we place upon them. Soldiers fight wars because of the perceived difference between “us” and “them”, and artists don themselves in aesthetics subjectively believed to be better than their undistinguishable neighbors. Employees attempt to stand out in a pool of suit jacket doppelgangers with the best armory of adjectives while global movements unify through categories very broad. We emerged from the cave with the intense necessity to describe, differentiate, and discuss how cosmic dust can be both the oxygen we breathe and the tree that births it. Yet, a society full of categories turns in on itself, and soon many more categories are needed to differentiate the categories themselves. In an instant, I can describe myself in ways so specific and arbitrary that I stand unique amongst my fellow Man; in the next, use other descriptions to define myself as the lowest common human denominator. 

On our campus, this practice is ever evident. Those unfit to make the distinction between 1843 Grill and Crossroads Deli are cursed to wait in long lines for meal swipe subsistence they never wanted. Why, then, could such a subversion of this phenomena find itself on what is perhaps the sacred text of Holy Cross categorizations– the menu. Grab your fingers on any random evening and take them for a walk across your screen to open the Grubhub app. Instantly, you are struck by the weight of so many categories. Break through such technological bureaucracy and you will find enough options for a businessman at the buffet or a commoner at the… commons. Among these are the “Crossroads Originals”, an esteemed category relegated for Crossroads creative concoctions (note the gold-like conviction of the cheese fries icon). Eerily, like the faces the coat on your hanger makes in the dark or the beeping of a vending machine undesired, you come across the lonely “Xroads Double”. Intrigued yet intimidated, you quickly realize that the “X” in “Xroads” is simply a stand-in for “Cross”. “How delightful”, you think to yourself, “with jovial wit like that, what an intriguing option this has become”. One question remains unanswered, however: what is it? Your muscle memory kicks in, and your fingers, now moist with sweat, search anxiously for more information. But silence remains– there is no description, no category, no anything to make sense of such a food option. It sits there among its widely defined neighbors— the “steak and cheese” sandwich that is described despite the literality of its name. It is simply the “Xroads Double”, the personification of risk with no desire to define itself. 

How, then, can we grapple with such feature-lessness, such non-committance? We must start from the beginning, and our first inclination is to pontificate on its mere existence. Soon, a foreboding question creeps in: is the “Xroads Double” simply a capricious duplication of the “Xroads Single”? “It certainly would be”, you think to yourself, moments before your knees buckle. Face planted sympathetically in your hand, you come to the realization that the “Xroads Double” is the older brother in a single-child home, the sequel of a movie never made, the extension of a concept simply not real. What does it say about the Liberal Arts, about society in general, about the miracle of human life in an unconstructed, uninterested, and unforgiving waterfall of perceptions, if the “Xroads Single” is not a part of it? 

Many would say that the “Xroads Double” mnemonically necessitates the existence of a “Xroads Single”. The “Xroads Double”, though currently unidentified in its fully assumed state, would need to derive its identity and substance from the implied original. Yet, it doesn’t.

More broadly, the Holy Cross administration is taking a categorical stance against the concept of duality and nomenclature. In physics, duality is used to explain the ways in which systems can appear as either waves or particles depending on the perception of the viewer. The “Xroads Double”, then, becomes equivalent to those systems and all matter in general, and with it we can host a referendum on the impulse to categorize. What the “Xroads Double” prompts us to consider is the subjectivity of categorization and general understanding: despite the many universally understood objects in our world, different countries have different languages and different languages have different words. Most of our brains generate different descriptors in the split-second it takes to describe something, but what’s universal is the underlying impulse for categories at large. The “Xroads Double” subverts this impulse, tasking us with rewiring our brains to avoid predispositions. In a new, post- “Xroads Double” world, we do not make automatic judgments about the origin and condition of something based on its name, but instead experience it in the way it was meant to be experienced: whole-heratedly, unapologetically, and in your face.

Featured image courtesy of Holy Cross

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